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Wednesday, January 29, 2003


Atrios points to an interview with Kurt Vonnegut in which he points out something so insightful that I think it bears some examination. He says:

What has allowed so many PPs [pathological personalities] to rise so high in corporations, and now in government, is that they are so decisive. Unlike normal people, they are never filled with doubts, for the simple reason that they cannot care what happens next. Simply can’t. Do this! Do that! Mobilize the reserves! Privatize the public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care! Tap everybody’s telephone! Cut taxes on the rich! Build a trillion-dollar missile shield! Fuck habeas corpus and the Sierra Club and In These Times, and kiss my ass!

This gets to one of the most frustrating aspects of dealing with this administration. We keep expecting that they will be held accountable for lying, or breaking their promises or misrepresenting their policies or any number of other things we can file under the heading of WTF? But, because they are moving so fast and with such focus we simply cannot assess the damage before they are on to the next item.

They execute, they don’t plan. Their vision is a laundry list. They do not reassess their policy goals, ever, because they do not really have goals. They have an itemized agenda. And, they just keep moving. Like sharks. They don’t have regrets and they never question. They have faith that whatever their team is doing, it must be right and the most important thing is to GET THE JOB DONE.

That’s why this administration is so irrational and incompetent on every single level

These people are not natural leaders. They are natural followers. Like lemmings, they are following their instincts without knowing that they are all jumping off the edge of a cliff. Unfortunately they are taking us and the rest of the world with them.

American Reformation

CalPundit links to Devra and others regarding the Catholic church’s recent edict to politicians regarding their positions on abortion.


The bishop's newfound aggressiveness seems to have been partly prompted by a Vatican document released a couple of weeks ago telling Catholic politicians that they are obligated to follow church doctrine on a variety of topics, including abortion. As Jim Capozzola pointed out last week, the Vatican wasn't really saying anything new, but they were trying to re-emphasize existing doctrine, and it seems to have hit home.

I am not a religious person. I try, however, to be sensitive and respectful of others beliefs and I don’t usually cast my political positions in terms of religious faith or my own agnosticism.

But, I really have to ask my Catholic friends how they are able to take seriously moral edicts from the leaders of their church at the present time? I find it impossible to understand how papal infallibility, moral instruction and rampant institutional child molestation and cover-ups can be reconciled through either logic or faith.

Maybe it’s just me, but if I were a member of such a congregation I think I’d be thinking in terms of Schism II. For the hierarchy to be taking political action, in this country at this time just smacks of the kind of hubris that landed this church some serious deep waters a few centuries ago.

Again, it’s really not my business. But, I would be very interested in hearing how rational Catholics are dealing with this.

He's a Fine Lookin' Man

The Blogtopian Constitution requires that one designated blogger be at an undisclosed location during the SOTU in case Andy Sullivan or Free Republic spam the internet with hot, breathy descriptions of manly presidential glutes and guts, thus causing all thinking people's brains to explode and ending the blogosphere as we know it. I'm afraid that I was it this year. Therefore, I was mercifully unable to see George Winston Bush deliver his usual masterful oratory last night. I am especially sorry that I missed the final, absolute, I-Mean-it-for-real-this-time case for regime change…er…no disarmament…uh…liberation, yeah that’s right, liberation of Iraq. Thankfully, TBOGG was kind enough to analyze the all the new facts presented and distill it down to the essential fine points for me:

War. What Is It Good For? Absolute Manhood for Chickenhawks: We're going. Americans will die in Iraq and possibly at home in retaliation. The oil companies will get their oil after the US government (us) pays to restore the fields to workability. Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle will share a deep wet kiss...with lots of tongue. Michael Kelly will finally have an erection...his wife won't notice or care. Poppy Bush will finally be avenged, but not in time to stop his moral rot. And little George Walker Bush will get his first pubic hair.
Quick get a camera.....

Julia over at Sisyphus Shrugged does a nice rundown as well and points out another shift in Bush’s usually hawkish rhetoric:

The dictator of Iraq is not disarming.

She says:

I find him rather offputting myself.


Testosterone Pique

Reader Leah (whom I now have the pleasure to harass about getting her own blog) gives me a heads up to a comment that Ed Harris made about our Fearless Leader, Cowboy Bob:

SHIELDS: Now for the Outrage of the Week.

Bob Novak.

NOVAK: Actor Ed Harris came to Washington this week for a pro abortion dinner.


ED HARRIS, ACTOR: We've got this guy in the White House who thinks he is a man, you know, who projects himself as a man because he has a certain masculinity, and he's a good old boy, and he used to drink, and he knows how to shoot a gun and how to drive a pickup truck, et cetera, like that. That's not the definition of a man, (EXPLETIVE DELETED) it. (God-dammit was the deleted expletive)


NOVAK: It is simply disgraceful for Democrats to associate with this Hollywood sleaze.

Leah adds:

Sleaze? What's sleazy about Ed Harris? I guess in Novak's shock, shock, that anyone might say anything unflattering about a President....especially after the free ride Clinton got.....

Yeah, I just hate it when politicians associate with Hollywood celebrities. Why just the other day, Nancy Reagan was seen hobnobbing with a whole sleazy bunch of them at the Bel Air hotel.


Tuesday, January 28, 2003

I'm Sure It's All Just A Happy Coincidence

Punditwatch posted the following exchange:

Both Kate O’Beirne of National Review, on Capital Gang, and Bill Kristol on Fox used almost identical language to describe a suddenly more hawkish sounding Colin Powell: “Colin Powell is now where Dick Cheney was last August, inspections won't work, we cannot disarm Saddam Hussein through inspections.”

Ah, yes. Back in August, Cheney was ready to parachute into Iraq right at that moment, right?
And Powell led Junior from the darkness and persuaded him (with the help of other cool heads like James Baker and Henry Kissinger) to take the case to the United Nations. I cheered. At least we wouldn't be casting aside international law and "going it alone."

All Things Considered from September 13th:

GJELTEN: The US military official speaking on background says war planners in the Pentagon are basically making that same assumption. For military action to conclude by the end of February, preparations, of course, would have to begin well before that. Some senior commanders say as many as 200,000 US troops would need to be deployed to the region to carry out an Iraqi operation with a good chance of success. John Pike does the math.

Mr. PIKE: That would require military buildup of anywhere from two to three months before the ground campaign began, which would mean that American troops would have to start moving into Kuwait sometime around Thanksgiving.

Waddaya know? According to the Detroit Free Press on January 23rd with the headline:

U.S. firepower a growing force in Persian Gulf . Experts say troops total about 200,000

Cheney may have been "here" in August, but he knew they couldn't make a move until February. We've patiently gone along with the UN inspections process and changed our harsh "regime change" language to "disarmament" for the 4 months it took to build up our forces in the region to the level required for an invasion. Colin Powell, the diplomat, at the most propitious moment possible suddenly become fed up with the UN and is "where Cheney was in August." We are poised to invade in February.

Whodda thunk it?

Saturday, January 25, 2003

David Niewart's blog Orcinus is so good.

Rush, Newspeak and fascism: Part 1

If there was any question that Rush Limbaugh is the most dangerous demagogue in America, he may have erased it with his latest broadside, describing antiwar protesters as "fascists and anti-American."

This is the latest step in the right-wing campaign to demonize opposition to President Bush's questionable policies as "anti-American," a campaign I've described previously. It is closely associated with attacks on multiculturalism. But Limbaugh takes it another step by associating liberals with Nazis and other fascist regimes

This is not the first time he has misused the term. He has referred at various times to "liberal compassion fascists," and on other occasions has explained to his national audience that Nazis in fact were "socialists." This is, of course, the kind of twisting of terminology that turns the meaning of a concept into its precise opposite -- thereby nullifying its meaning and reality -- that is the essence of Newspeak.

More at the link.

This is important. Limbaugh is not a joke and he isn't an entertainer and he isn't mainstream and he isn't benign. He is a powerful demagogue and a high ranking political propagandist for the Republican party. He should be taken very seriously.

Check out Take Back The Media's boycott. It's certainly worth a try. MWO reports some progress.

What Was I Thinking?

I was chastised over in Atrios' comments section for not providing the correction on the "Bush revives confederate wreath practice" story on my blog. I did, of course, but that wouldn't have been enough in any case.

We left bloggers have been summarily marched to the wood shed for not adequately prostrating ourselves at the feet of George W Bush, indeed all Republicans, for spreading this shameful lie perpetrated by Time Magazine. It seems that we all owe George W. Bush an apology for ever believing such a thing and, even worse, for commenting on it.

I have given it a lot of thought and I agree that when someone attacks the character of someone in office based upon rumors, gossip and an unprofessional media, they owe it to that person to sincerely apologize when it turns out that such a thing is factually incorrect.

So, I apologize to George W. Bush for believing that he would revive a practice of sending a wreath to honor Robert E. Lee and posting a short comment about it. He did not do it and I hope that everyone realizes this and wipes the scurrilous accusation from their mind.

Now, I realize that this will cause a bandwidth crisis that could presage the end of the Internet as we know it, but there can be no logical consistency in requiring me to apologize for a post that linked to a Time article (to which I merely appended "Karl Rove makes Lee Atwater look like an amateur") without also requiring that Republicans and the press apologize for 8 solid years of character assassination and smears against the Clinton administration. (And I would say that the Gores deserve a mea culpa too, for the lies perpetrated against them by the press and the GOP during campaign 2000.)

I do look forward to Rush Limbaugh and all of his imitators, the entire Barbizon School of Dyed Blond Former Prosecutors, the editorial board of the New York Times and the Washington Post, William Safire, Maureen Dowd and every other columnist, Lucianne Goldberg and her coven of hideous bitches, AND EVERY OTHER REPUBLICAN WHO SAID THAT CLINTON WAS A CRIMINAL, to now prostrate themselves at the feet of Bill and Hillary for the despicable, cruel and outrageous lies they spread from the years 1992 through the present.

If I've got to apologize publicly for posting one inaccurate article, the entire Republican establishment will be spending the rest of its natural life trying to find the time to eat and sleep in between confessions of guilt.

Better get started, Kids. I suggest that you begin with the false allegations of holding up Air Force One with a haircut, go on to the bogus accusations of influencing Beverly Bassett on Madison Guarantee (and ALL Whitewater related smears for that matter.) Don't forget Vince Foster's much investigated "murder," through Safire's "scoop" that Hillary was about to be indicted and just keep going until you hit Clinton's illegitimate love child and the phony White House trashing story.

Once you are through with all that, then come back for the next round of apologies to Al Gore for the series of lies told about him during the campaign. (And you might want to send a couple over to your fellow Republican, John McCain, too.)

After all that, then maybe we can be considered even. I have apologized for the harm I did to George W. Bush by repeating an inaccurate story.

The ball is in your court now, fellas.

Friday, January 24, 2003

When Did Police Decide That Common Sense Is For Losers?

You know, if those in authority didn't behave like robots and used just a tad of reason when dealing with the public, maybe we wouldn't have to use the legal system to enforce common decency.

Via Skimble

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - A woman with a brain tumor filed a lawsuit against Walgreens Advance Care Inc., saying when she arrived to pick up her painkiller prescription one day, a pharmacist had her arrested.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Pierce County Superior Court, Shannon O'Brien, 35, said she went to the drive-up window at a Walgreen Drug Store two blocks from her home last July 7. The pharmacist on duty thought she had faked her Percocet prescription and called police, the lawsuit stated.

"I was in hysterics - crying, very upset and very embarrassed," O'Brien told The Associated Press on Thursday. "They could have checked my records. I've had the same medicine every month."


O'Brien, who was first diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1994, said she told the officer who handcuffed her that he could call her doctor or her nurse to verify the prescription.

"I told him I had brain cancer, and I had a medical information card inside my wallet," she said. "It didn't matter to him. He didn't believe anything I was telling him."

As Skimble says, "American life gets more humiliating by the day."

I'm sure Toe-art Reform will put this little whiner in her place. A real American would be glad to get arrested and hauled off to jail if it helped fight the drug war, brain cancer or not.

California GOP twists itself into a big ole Pretzel

"I'm for it, with reservations" Or is it, "I'm against it, for now?" Whatever.

posts about the rhetorical fight being waged between Howard Dean and John Kerry over the Iraq resolution. I'm with Dean on this. Kerry's Iraq vote was disasterous, and all the more so because he didn't have to do it. He says he'll hold Bush's feet to the fire, but unfortunately, he has absolutely no power to do that so it sounds like so much weak political bullshit. Which it is.

The Red Staters who were facing shameful scumbags like Saxby Chambliss last November could be forgiven. But it was important to rank and file Democrats that their leaders (none of whom were facing tough re-election battles) understood how important this issue was to them and that they take a stand.

Every last Democratic presidential hopeful in the Senate took a dive.

It was a cowardly CYA-for-the-future-because-the-big-bad-Republicans-will-be-mean vote that took the starch right out of the Democratic base who made thousands of calls and wrote thousands of letters veritably begging the leading Dems to hold tough on this issue. Any Democratic electoral momentum leading up to the election hit a brick wall when they caved on the issue.

And we can thank the vaunted political strategists of Carville, Shrum and Greenberg for this incredible miscalculation:

According to the memo, the most effective argument for Democrats who oppose the war is one which "affirms one's commitment to wage the war against terrorism, including getting rid of Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, but that questions the rush to war; it calls on the U.S. to seek U.N. and international support, others sharing costs and making sure we will achieve greater stability."

Nearly as strong, the memo argues, is explaining a no vote as a no "for now," and "stressing the need to go to the UN and try to get the inspectors back into Iraq and work to get the support of our allies."

That position, the memo notes, is strongest by far with "independents and with men (where the issue has more salience.)"

The least effective argument?

"Outright opposition to the war against Iraq and to the concept of regime change, finishing with the phrase, 'it is the wrong thing to do,' produces a weak response," they write.

Driving the point home, the memo points out that the poll found that a Democrat who opposes the war who simply argues that the policy is wrong loses by 15 points (39 percent to 54 percent) to a Republican who says he or she "trusts Bush to do this right."

Yeah. The politician who sounds the most like he's trying to have it both ways is always a big winner.

Carville,Greenberg and Shrum's post mortem of the election said:

In the end, 39 percent of the actual voters self-identified as Republicans, 3 percent more than in 2000 and 1998. The Democratic portion fell to 35 percent (down from 39 percent in 2000 and 37 percent in 1998). That alone could more than account for the shift witnessed at the polls. There was an even bigger increase in self-identified conservatives in the elector-ate, 41 percent, compared to approximately 30 percent two and four years ago.

How surprising.

Now, we are stuck with this absurd position of having to defend giving Junior a blank check while pretending that we are "influencing" the debate. And this happened, in my opinion, largely because some of the Democratic base was depressed by the craven behavior of its Senate leaders on the grave issue of whether to go to war.

I love Carville on Crossfire. He seems like a great guy. But, I have to wonder when the last time these three mythical Democratic strategists actually won any elections.

I lay the loss of the last one at their feet.

The James Earl Ray Historical Society Is Upset

Josh Marshall has too much class to mention it to this ignorant cretin, but he has a PhD in .... History.

God And Man At UM

OOOOh. Julia eviscerates William B. Fuckley.

And finds an inconvenient little factoid that has gone missing from the press accounts of the case.

What he didn't add, from the same article in the Wall Street Journal he's quoting without attribution:

Sons and daughters of graduates make up 10% to 15% of students at most Ivy League schools and enjoy sharply higher rates of acceptance. Harvard accepts 40% of legacy applicants, compared with an 11% overall acceptance rate. Princeton took 35% of alumni children who applied last year, and 11% of overall applicants. The University of Pennsylvania accepts 41% of legacy applicants, compared with 21% overall.

At Notre Dame, about 23% of all students are children of graduates.


Although universities have always paid special attention to their alumni, the legacy preference was formalized early last century, in some cases partly to limit enrollment of Jews. Today, the practice often has that effect on other groups. At the University of Virginia, 91% of legacy applicants accepted on an early-decision basis for next fall are white; 1.6% are black, 0.5% are Hispanic, and 1.6% are Asian. Among applicants with no alumni parents, the pool of those accepted is more diverse: 73% white, 5.6% black, 9.3% Asian and 3.5% Hispanic.

and this woodnote wild from the Michigan case:

One of those students, Patrick Hamacher, was turned down by Michigan despite having a legacy preference. An earlier version of Michigan's legacy preference had boosted his 2.9 high-school grade-point average to 3 for purposes of considering him. The suit that he and co-plaintiff Jennifer Gratz filed asks for the elimination of race as a factor in admissions at the university. But Mr. Hamacher says he actually doesn't think Michigan should consider either race or parentage in its admissions. He is now a graduate of another university, Michigan State.

Julia says:

So the student who's suing was willing to get in ahead of more qualified applicants. Funny we didn't hear that earlier...

The average SAT of legacies admitted at Harvard is two points lower than that of the average student admitted which number includes the legacies?

Take out the legacy scores from the average and tell me how the average legacy stacks up to that number.

Better yet, let's talk mean scores.

Better yet, how about Mr. Buckley go back to the Dartmouth Review where his kind of reasoning is more at home.

He has always been a liar. Now, he has virtually everything he's ever wanted but he just can't stop himself. It's embedded in the DNA.

UPDATE: Ampersand has a very instructive analysis about how many and which whites are rejected because of affirmative action.

Honor and Integrity

Kevin Drum says:

Let's recap: When Democrats controlled the Senate and Bush and Reagan were president, they were nice guys and allowed judicial nominations to proceed with only one blue slip.

When Republicans took over the Senate and Clinton was president, Republicans played hardball and demanded two blue slips.

When Bush became president, they suddenly decided that those nice Democrats were right after all: one blue slip should be enough.

Don't you just love principled conservatives?

I just love 'em.

And, FWIW, I've been following the Lott study story mostly on Kevin's great site and I just have to say that it's pretty obvious that this guy is fucked up on a grand scale. Kevin says:

And don't forget: Lott originally sourced the 98% number to someone else and then changed his mind only in 1999 when it turned out that he had misinterpreted the survey results he was using. He had never mentioned doing a survey of his own until then. What's more, Lott's first reference to the 98% number was in early 1997, well before his survey could have been finished.

That does it for me. cred-i-bil-i-ty-gap

So, what are the gun guys saying about all this? Are we demanding that they repudiate everything they've ever said on the issue and crawl on their bellies to every gun control advocate they know and beg for forgiveness and pledge to tell all the world how wrong, wrong, wrong they are? I certainly hope so....

Via Hesiod:

South Korean Leader Criticizes Bush Approach

"We are looking for some peaceful way of solving this through dialogue," the presidential spokesman said.

Kim Dae Jung reiterated that message in remarks at a luncheon today, in which he took an indirect swipe at President Bush's refusal to negotiate with the North Korean leader.

"Sometimes we need to talk to the other party, even if we dislike the other party," he said, repeating versions of the phrase three times. "There's no other way but to engage North Korea in dialogue. It's reality whether we like it or not."

The barbs were aimed at President Bush's harsh personal rhetoric directed at the North Korean leader, which many in Kim's administration feel have helped create the current crisis. Bush began his administration by bluntly declaring he did not trust the North Korean dictator, and recently was quoted by Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward saying, "I loathe Kim Jong Il"-- personal affronts that have great weight in Asian cultures.

(Another instance of Cowboy Bob's lack of experience and intellectual development leading him to unnecessarily personalize a policy dispute with the most paranoid, proud despot on the planet. Calling an Asian leader names is perhaps the most ignorant and disrespectful thing this moron has done. And he did it at a time when Kim Jong Il was trying to re-establish relations with its mortal enemy, Japan, and its estranged brother, South Korea. Calling him a pygmy and saying he loathed him at that moment was akin to pissing on his head in public.

And, you don't have to be a career diplomat to know this. You only have to have read something other than the "Hungry Caterpillar" and watched "Combat" re-runs after school.)

In his State of the Union address last January, Bush lambasted North Korea as part of an "axis of evil." Many South Koreans resented that, feeling it was a gratuitous remark that torpedoed South Korea's "sunshine policy" and scuttled efforts to coax North Korea out of its isolation and hostility.

As Hesiod says, "Is there ANYONE left on the rest of the planet who supports President Bush?"

He also points out:

The Bush administration's obsession with Iraq, and the increasing reluctance/opposition from many countries to our machinations, brings to mind the old Groucho Marx joke: "I wouldn't want to join any club that would have me as a member."

Why do I say that? Because, Bush is very good at lining up oppressive, ant-democratic regimes to his cause. But he's terrible at getting Democratic nations to follow his lead with respect to Iraq. The reason is...public opinion. The vast majority of people OUTSIDE the United States don't want a war with Iraq. Hell...it's even unpopular HERE!

The Supreme Irony is...one of the very reason Bush claims he wants "regime change" in Iraq: to advance human rights and democracy, the the very thing that could undermine his whole effort.

The people of the world just do not want this war.

This is just one more example of the undemocratic streak that runs through the modern Republican Party. Creeping fas.....

Big Hair

Just looking at MSNBC and wondering when Bay Buchanan decided to get a Farrah do.

It's very disturbing. Very.

We All Knew This Was Next, Didn't We?


"The proposals, obtained by The Washington Post, are the first indication of the Bush administration’s plans for changing Title IX, which is widely credited with increasing female participation in collegiate sports over the past three decades."


Anyone think that the Soccer Mom's won't notice this? I guess Bush is counting on a boost from the all-important "Wrestling Moms"...see Catfight, below.

Maybe if the universities weren't paying Bobby Bowden, Mike Krzyzewski, Bob Stoop, and Roy Williams millions of dollars to coach their respective sports, the schools would have enough money to fund wrestling, swimming, and volleyball for men. But that will never happen.

Golly, Tom. Haven't you heard? 64% of Americans think there should be no preferences in college admissions, even for athletics. They'd be willing to give up their winning teams in the interest of a true academic meritocracy. So, you just know they'll be willing to give up those winning coaches' huge salaries in order to preserve fairness for all God's children, red or yellow, black or white AND girl or boy.

Sure they will.

Update: Kevin at Lean Left makes an excellent point:

So, points for race among points for other things is a quota, but setting a minimum number for athletics is not?

Well...no....it's completely different because Bush made his quota statement on a Thursday and this will come out on a Monday. Apples and oranges.

The Major Problem Is Bush the Cowboy

This is why you don't allow an unqualified brand name in a suit be president of the most powerful country in the world. He thinks he's cute but he is actually confusing and unnecessarily provocative.

To European ears, the president's language is far too blunt, and he has been far too quick to cast the debate about how to separate Saddam Hussein from his weapons of mass destruction in black-and-white certainties, officials in Paris and Berlin say. They add that his confrontational approach, his impatience with the inspections and even his habit of finger pointing as he speaks undermine the possibility of common strategy against Saddam Hussein.

No kidding. I'm California born and bred and I find his language embarrassingly puerile and simple-minded (although I realize that this makes me something more akin to French than American, what with my diet of brie and cheese and all.) That finger pointing drives me up a wall, too. His default tone is a scold. "Ah tole the Murican people they were gonna half tah be patient, an Ah MEANT it!"

"Much of it is the way he talks, this provocative manner, the jabbing of his finger at you," said Hans-Ulrich Klose, the vice chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in the German Parliament. "It's Texas, a culture that is unfamiliar to Germans. And it's the religious tenor of his arguments."

It's not Texas. It's stupid. There are millions of smart Texans. He isn't one of them.

When Bush is on CNN, if you close your eyes you would believe you are listening to an inarticulate, bumbling Jimmy Swaggert instead of a world leader. His religiosity has all the sincerity of Elmer Gantry. But, it's one of the only ways he knows how to speak. Lame preacher. Angry scold.

Over the past several months, as Mr. Bush has mounted his argument for forcing Iraq to disarm, the president himself has once again become the issue here. In interviews in three capitals over the past week, diplomats, politicians and analysts said they believed relations between the United States and two of its most crucial allies — Germany and France — were at their lowest point since the end of the cold war.

As the White House was quick to argue today, the American president has friends and admirers among the leading politicians in several Western European countries, starting with Britain, Italy and Spain, and spreading east to Poland.

Not starting. Ending. And there is going to be some tension on those counts as more and more citizens of those countries take to the streets. Unlike the US, when the citizens of Eupopean countries march in huge numbers, the press and the government actually notice.

It is no wonder, Mr. Bush's foreign policy aides say, that he has redrawn his mental map of America's alliances, and that Paris and Berlin have been placed in the deep freeze for failing his loyalty tests.

His loyalty tests. His personal loyalty tests. This is all that matters. It's all about Him. They are supposed to do what he tells them to do. He's the Commander in chief. Of everybody.

An American diplomat trying to keep European objections from delaying Mr. Bush's timetable for disarming Iraq said he heard similar complaints all the time.

"Much of it is the way he talks, the rhetoric, the religiosity," he said of Mr. Bush. "It reminds them of what drove them crazy about Reagan. It reminds them of what they miss about Clinton. All the stereotypes we thought we had banished for good after Sept. 11 — the cowboy imagery, in particular — it's all back."

Reagan was Aristotle compared to this little boy. He had many, many years of experience making speeches and talking politics. He could articulate what he believed. And he could be an utterly charming personality even if you hated his policies.

Clinton actually had the goods. He had a politicians' gift for drawing people to him. But, he also had a lively and nimble mind that could flexibly adapt to situations and people. He knew what he was talking about and that gave other countries' leaders confidence in him. (They were unconcerned with his cock because, well, Europeans know that genitalia is common to all creatures on the planet. It doesn't make them giggle like schoolgirls or recoil in shock.)

Junior is callow, unschooled, unpredictable and tempermentally mean. His good-ole boy persona is a phony mask for his insecurity. He makes thinking people nervous because he is so obviously in over his head.

He has a credibility gap as wide as the Grand Canyon and his rhetoric is so unpredictable and incoherant that they simply cannot trust what this government says.

From the French Foreign Ministry to the chancellor's office in Berlin, there is broad acknowledgement that the breach between the United States and its traditional allies in Western Europe has gone beyond the friction that has long been a staple of French-American relations or the misunderstandings that have grown since the cold-war ended.

Senior officials insisted in interviews that in France and Germany Mr. Bush had not made the case that Iraq posed a more imminent threat than, say, Al Qaeda.

One French official argued that the American military's failure to hunt down Osama bin Laden and other members of Al Qaeda's top command had led Mr. Bush to search for "easier but less important prey."

That is only partly true. He was manipulated by the people in his administration who wanted to go into Iraq before 9/11 and cynically used that tragedy to justify what they were planning to do anyway.

And it is wrong to say that he is not completely on top of the Al Qaeda situation. Why, just today he made the bold and unprecedented statement that we have Al Qaeda "on the run" and that we've "disrupted their operations," something I don't think we've heard before. I believe he also mentioned something very intriguing about how the terrorists "live in caves" and we are going to "rout them out." Very interesting new developments on that front.

"Terrorists are a hundred times more likely to obtain a weapon of mass destruction from Pakistan than from Iraq," one senior European official said, not permitting a reporter to identify even his nationality because tensions with Washington are so high. "North Korea is far more likely to sell whatever it's got. But can we say this in public? Can we have a real debate about priorities? Not with George Bush."

No, you cannot have a debate in public if it challenges the omnipotence of our great and good leader George W. Bush. It is treasonous for Americans and it is disloyal for world leaders. He TOLD the world what he was gonna do, an he MEANT it!

This sense that many European officials have of dealing with an American president who makes up his mind and then will accept no argument is a central element in the current friction.


Yeah. It bugs the hell out of over 50% of Americans, too.

In all seriousness, this is a real problem. Say what you will about the Europeans, after 9/11 they were backing us 100%. They are our very closest allies politically, culturally and economically , most especially on the threat of Islamic terrorism. We have worked hand in glove for over 50 years to establish international institutions and a set of norms to govern civilized behavior in the era of nuclear weapons and an increasingly interdependent world.

It is truly outrageous that Cowboy Bob and his band of frustrated middle aged warriors have so little regard for these long standing alliances. They seem determined to destroy every single shred of goodwill we have built up over the last half century the same way they destroyed the post 9/11 goodwill in a matter of months.

I fear that the Strangelove elements in this administration suffer from a feeling of impotence because they did not receive the victory parades and heroic adulation they felt they were entitled to for zealously fighting the cold war and defeating communism.

Containment sucks. Nobody ever says "uncle." Our allies don't lay wreaths of gratitude at our feet. The anti-communists don't get any credit for keeping the heat on. The chickenhawks are frustrated.

So, they bought themselves a nasty little sock-puppet and are going to seize what they think they deserve. They want to be worshipped for being right.

Thursday, January 23, 2003


...damned liberal media
Demosthenes wonders when the US became the Imperial Rulers of the world

Perhaps I missed the memo.. when exactly did the Security Council and the U.N. itself become something that needed to be judged? Where this comes from is pretty obvious; it's a way of reinforcing that ridiculous line that Bush was pushing at the U.N. that it is the legitimacy of the U.N. that is in question, not the American invasion of Iraq. This is absurd, of course: the United States neither has the right, nor the authority, nor even the ability to objectively judge the U.N., and attempts to do so should be (and yet unfortunately have not been) roundly and thoroughly condemned by those outside the United States who do not agree that American exceptionalism is some sort of carte blanche. Instead we have a British minister acting as if the invasion of Iraq was something upon which the U.N. should or even could be judged. That begs the question; the whole point of gaining U.N. approval is not to grant legitimacy or deny legitimacy to the U.N. (which gains its legitimacy from the consent of its signatory states, consent that the United States cannot take away) but to decide whether or not the U.N. decides the invasion itself is legitimate under international law

"There is no such thing as the United Nations"
John Bolton, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security

Civil Rights for Old Boys

William B. Fuckley can still make the most officious prick sound like a good ole' boy. George Will can't shine his shoes.

Only 6 weeks ago the headlines said:

"White House Claims Election Is Broad Mandate"

My, how the mighty have fallen.

NY Times/CBS Poll

Nearly 50 percent of the public expressed disapproval of how Mr. Bush was handling the economy, while 41 percent expressed disapproval of his management of foreign policy, which has been the foundation of his extraordinarily high levels of support since Sept. 11. Those disapproval figures are the highest they have been since Mr. Bush took office.

Half of all respondents said Mr. Bush did not share their priorities for the country, an increase of 14 points from when the question was asked a year ago. That is a question pollsters watch closely to measure potential vulnerabilities of a candidate.


A majority of the poll's respondents — including 49 percent of Republicans — said reducing the deficit would be more likely to revive the economy than would cutting taxes, the course pressed by Mr. Bush. The White House announced last week that the budget deficit for next year would reach at least $300 billion.

Finally, 63 percent said things were going worse in the country that they were five years ago.


Although Mr. Bush has signaled that he is prepared to lead a war against Iraq without the support of the Security Council, nearly two-thirds of Americans said they wanted him to try to find a diplomatic solution to the Iraq situation, while 31 percent said the United States should resort to military force. Even so, 64 percent said they approved of the United States taking military action to oust Saddam Hussein, while 30 percent said they disapproved.


The poll found that 54 percent of respondents said affirmative action in hiring, promoting and college admissions should be continued, while 37 percent said it should be abolished. Along those lines, the respondents said they expected Mr. Bush to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will vote to make abortion illegal, but that stance was not shared by a majority of respondents.
So far, at least, Mr. Bush does not appear to have persuaded the nation that the way to repair the economy is a new round of tax cuts, or that the cuts he has proposed would not favor the wealthy.
And 58 percent of respondents said that Mr. Bush's policies favor the rich, compared with 10 percent who said they favored the middle class. In addition, 26 percent said they treated everyone the same and 1 percent said they favored the poor. Two-thirds of respondents said big business had too much influence on this White House.

The poll pointed to some vulnerabilities in what has been Mr. Bush's strong suit, foreign policy and the war on terrorism. By 55 percent to 40 percent, Americans said the administration was reacting to events as they occurred abroad rather than having a clear foreign policy plan.


Slightly more than half of the respondents said the United States was less respected in the world today than it was two years ago, when Mr. Bush took office, while one-third said relations with Europe had worsened. And while the public said they viewed Iraq as a bigger threat to world peace than North Korea, reflecting the White House view, respondents named Al Qaeda as the biggest threat of all.

The poll also suggested some concern about what the White House has done to forestall future domestic terrorist attacks. Just over 40 percent said Mr. Bush had a clear plan for fighting terrorism, while 53 percent said he was reacting to events.

Fifty-two percent said they believed the government had done "all it could be reasonably expected to do" to protect the country from future terrorist attacks. But 45 percent said it could have done more.

Now, that's a mandate, my friends.

Oh, What Does He Know?

"President Bush has a vision that the U.S. should be the first to strike and will never be militarily challenged again," Clark said. "It's an incomplete vision. Those of us who have fought in wars know you don't make friends when you use weapons."


Clark said hatred toward the United States may have originated in the 1980s with the end of the Cold War and fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

"We seized the opportunity and took advantage of free trade and open markets," Clark said. "We built tremendous prosperity, but we didn't understand the risks we were taking over our economy, our environment and our lives."

Clark said American Muslims who believe in peace and tolerance should be encouraged to help persuade extremists that American democracy does not threaten their way of life.

Clark commended the president's response to the Sept. 11 attacks and the war on terrorism that followed. But, he said, the United States responded out of fear, which is foreign to Americans.

Clark said America's mission in Iraq should include the best interest of all nations.

"When you use force and you talk about using force, it should be used as your last, last, last resort," Clark said. "You have to use it with a lot of prayer because a lot of innocent people are going to get hurt."

I continue to be impressed with Wesley Clark. It's difficult to assess when I don't know his positions of a wide variety of issues, but he sounds eminently reasonable to me on issues of war and peace. All things being equal, I think he would be a dynamite addition to the ticket.

Via Blah3: Thug Cabal's Final Strategy: Call out the entire WORLD!!!

I don't really think that's overstated. They keep stating their case, but they haven't made it. You can smell the desperation.

This is because they have what is called a "credibility gap." Remember that? It's what happens when an administration repeatedly lies, changes rhetoric but not goals and basically treats the public as if they are as stupid as President George W. Bush.

Very few voters are as stupid as George W. Bush.

Ahead Of The Curve

That damned LA Times is reading my blog again. That Greatest-Generation-is-against-the war-thing is sooo early January.

Moral Clarity

Ok. So let me get this straight just so I understand.

Foes of abortion believe that life begins at conception. And they believe that this life should be granted the same rights as the woman within whose body it must stay, at least for a period of time, if it is to develop and grow.

Fine. There is no moral distinction between the fully formed woman and the collection of cells that forms a zygote. From the moment of conception, this life has the same moral standing as a month old baby who sleeps in a bassinette in the nursery or a teen-ager or an old man. Life is life.

Therefore, it must be immoral to allow exceptions to a ban on abortion in the case of incest or rape. Would we kill a month old baby if we found out that it was the result of rape? Would we think that it was ok to smother a 6 month old child if we found out that it was conceived in incest? Of course not. What possible moral difference can it make how the child is conceived if it's endowed with inalienable rights at the moment of conception? You may punish the rapist or the incestuous relative, but the child's right to live is inviolable. Life is life.

In the case of choosing between the life of the child and the life of the mother, one is on delicate moral ground if the child is viable outside the womb. It is a Solomon's choice and one which should probably be left to fate. Doctors may be willing to choose and perhaps husband's or family, but it is not easy to morally defend.

Clearly, though, if a fetus has the same rights as any other human being, a doctor who performs abortions other than to save the life of the mother must be a murderer. But then, so must be the mother who willingly aborts. The life inside this woman has the same rights as any baby. Therefore, just like Andrea Yates, women who have abortions should be arrested and tried for murder. If found guilty she must go to jail. And those who argue for capital punishment for a mother who kills her baby must also agree that a woman who has an abortion must be tried as a capital murderer. Life is life.

I'm there, so far. But, if the life inside a woman's body has the same legal rights as a two month old baby, then if a woman has a miscarriage, shouldn’t she be investigated by the authorities? If the fetus has the same rights as the woman who carries it and it suddenly "disappears” the police should be asked to find out whether this woman murdered her baby, just as the authorities would investigate if a woman's one month old baby disappeared. After all, life is life.

Some jurisdictions are already intervening if women are caught taking drugs during pregnancy. This is the consistent moral stance. If a woman is abusing her body during pregnancy, she is also abusing a distinct human being who exists inside of her and that human being has the same right as she not to be abused by another person. Women must be held responsible for what they do to their babies inside of their bodies, just as they are held responsible for what they do to a 6 month old baby.

Considering these facts, I have to wonder at the moral obtuseness of a pro-life movement that would let murdering mothers go unpunished, negligent mothers go uninvestigated and, worst of all, endorse the legal killing of unborn children simply because they had the misfortune to be conceived in violence or incest. You would almost think that they believe there is a grey moral area on this question rather than the clear bright line of inalienable rights being proferred at the moment of conception. That can't be right.

Because to allow for exceptions or to ignore the woman's culpability in murdering or harming her child while it is inside the womb is to create the false impression that gestation is a unique period for the human species in which the woman and the baby are so inextricable that to all intents and purposes they are one person.

And one could then make the immoral assumption that because they are in all practicality one person, the sentient part of this person must be allowed to decide whether this "part of her" should grow and become an individual who is capable of living outside her body. Then no one would suspect her of criminal negligence if she miscarried after falling down the stairs and she could not be a considered a criminal child abuser if she had a glass of wine or a cigarette. Certainly she would not be a murderer if she felt she could not give birth to her own brother or the child of her rapist.

And if she's not a murderer for aborting her rapists child, then she is not a murderer for aborting any child.

And that would be wrong. Life is life, isn't it?

Gentle Persuasion

Come fly with me.

Via Musings

Divining the will of the voter

Avedon Carol has an interesting post up about VNS and the strange happenings with exit polls.

I'm not usually too much of a tin foiler, but I find it very strange that the VNS system went kerflooey at this particular moment in time. I hate to be paranoid, but there is such a strong undemocratic streak in the modern Republican party --- a partisan impeachment, Florida, Supreme Court intervention in a presidential election, Florida, a professional propaganda operation, Republican corporate media, Florida, coordinated character assassination, GOP partisan ownership in voting systems, Florida etc, etc. that when it comes to elections or issues of political legitimacy I think it behooves everyone to be extremely skeptical of any changes during this administration.

These people cannot be trusted with the fundamental machinery of democracy.

They are the political heirs of Richard M. Nixon --- without the brains or the scruples.

"It was opening us up to a broader knowledge of the situation"

During Campaign 2000, the press incorrectly reported Al Gore's comments about the Love Canal to such an extent that the high school kids who were there felt compelled to issue a press release entitled "Top ten reasons why many Concord High students feel betrayed by some of the media coverage of Al Gore's visit to their school."

Now, the campaign against Patty Murray's supposedly treasonous comments about Osama bin Laden to a senior honors class in Vancouver, Washington has been similarly exposed for the cynical manipulation it was. The students feel so strongly that the story was misrepresented that they also went to the media with a correction.

This seems to be a pattern.

Luckily for the future of the Republic, high school students have a far greater grasp of rational argument than right wing bloggers and Republicans do. It also appears that they are better able to understand the nuances of foreign policy than is the President of the United States. (But then, they are in a high school honors class so it's probably unfair to make a comparison to the cheerleader legacy frat boy...)

Class defends Murray remark

By Eric Stevick
Herald Writer

EVERETT -- For several days, seniors in an honors American government class at Cascade High School followed the public fury over comments Sen. Patty Murray made about Osama bin Laden to high school students in Vancouver.

Murray was criticized over the airwaves and in reader letters on editorial pages. Some called for a reprimand or censure.

All of which was a little hard for the Cascade students to comprehend.

Murray talked to their classroom in December just about the same time she made similar comments to students at Columbia River High School, according to a transcript. They didn't see how her comments could be construed to be sympathetic or supportive of the al-Qaida terrorist leader and the main suspect in the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States.

The students considered writing their own letter to the editor but decided, instead, to take up their teacher's offer to give their perspective in person.

To them, Democrat Murray was merely explaining how bin Laden could gain support in the Middle East.

"She didn't make him up as some kind of humanitarian," Ann Topham said.

"A lot of people thought she was forgiving 9/11," Katie Kelley said. "She wasn't defending it at all."

"She was in no way glorifying him," Becca Reynolds said. "She was just showing us the side we didn't really see. ... It was opening us up to a broader knowledge of the situation."

That perspective was the fact that bin Laden strategically contributed to causes that helped gain public support in the Middle East, they said. Critics point to Murray's lack of proof of any bin Laden humanitarian activities.

"He sees how to use his money to tender favor ... so he could do what he wanted," Will Shepherd said.

Students in Mike Therrell's class were required to work a minimum of 25 hours last fall on political campaigns. Most worked on legislative campaigns, a few on congressional campaigns. Some worked for Republicans, others Democrats, a few for third-party candidates. Murray was not up for election when she visited the class.

"Patty Murray made it very clear that Osama bin Laden was a villain, and the things he was doing to ingratiate himself to the people he was not doing as an act of kindness," said Therrell, who has been teaching for 35 years. "His ulterior motive was very evil."

Perhaps I shouldn't complain too vigorously about this since these politically interested kids will all be able to vote in the next election. They still have some ideals, you see. They still naively believe that silly concepts like intellectual honesty matter.

After seeing the party of honor and integrity up-close and personal, it's quite likely they will vote Democratic.

If Anyone Was Wondering Why The GOP Is Moribund In California...

Another hilarious example of the comedy stylings of that funny, funny California Republican, Randy Ridgel:


The letter by retired white rancher Randy Ridgel, a member of the party's Board of Directors, responds to complaints by state GOP Secretary Shannon Reeves, who is black. Earlier this month, Reeves said that some GOP leaders expect African Americans to "provide window dressing and cover to prove this is not a racist party, yet our own leadership continues to act otherwise."

In his letter to Reeves, Ridgel, 72, wrote: "At my age, with the distractions of being a detestable, insensitive racist, I grow befuddled from time to time, but I just don't remember your being hired as our black window dressing."

Ridgel criticized Reeves for sharing his concerns with the news media and suggested that Ward Connerly, an African American who has led efforts to kill affirmative action programs in California, would be more suitable window dressing.

"Knowing your propensity to avoid public appearances, as the job of black Republican window dressing requires, I would have been inclined to hire someone appropriately black but perhaps more garrulous, than your bashful self -- such as Ward Connerly, who, it may surprise you to learn, is not only satisfyingly black but a member of our party too," Ridgel wrote.

"I don't know why but I always fall down on my duties as Party Detestable Insensitive Racist when I encounter Ward; I actually like and respect him."

What a loveable old codger, huh? Nothing like a little bit of rude sarcasm in the middle of a political firestorm to really turn up the heat.

Besides, he likes Ward Connerly. He's not a racist. In fact, he's so not a racist that he thinks the one "good" negro he likes ought to replace that big mouthed Reeves who told the news media that he was considered window-dressing. Ridgel doesn't see him as window dressing. He just thinks he should be quiet and do what he's told.

That's why California Republicans are so successful these days. It's their savvy.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

1/25/03: If You are getting this post at the top of the page, please refresh your screen. Blogger is having problems for some people, apparently. There is a lot of recent stuff up.


Moving The Goalposts

Chris at Interesting Times sees a pattern.

I just flashed on something. The Republican's approach to Sadaam's declaration on his WMD programs is similar to their approach to Clinton's declaration of his involvement with Monica Lewinsky: no matter what is said, it will not be enough because the Republicans keep re-defining the parameters of what needs to be said. And the fact that Sadaam/Clinton fail to hit a moving target is taken as proof that they are guilty, unremorseful, and will do it again.

This is an excellent observation of a common GOP tactic that the mediawhores just love more than anything. Keep that story spinning at all costs. Nobody will notice that you are constantly moving the goalposts:

"If he comes forth and tells it and does it in the right way and there aren't a lot of other factors to cause the Congress to say this man is unfit for the presidency and should be impeached, then I think the president would have a reasonable chance of getting through this," said Hatch, R-Utah.

"I don't know anybody at the top of the system," Hatch said, "who really wants to see the president hurt in this matter."
Weeks ago, Hatch made an offer of consideration for confession, which he repeated in some form in virtually every TV appearance.


After so much criticism of his promiscuous use of language, Clinton made his basic points very directly. "It was wrong." "A personal failure." His observation that even Presidents have private lives was compelling and legitimate--most Americans agree that what goes on in a President's bedroom is no one's business but his.


What a jerk." ORRIN HATCH, Utah Republican Senator


Hatch was satisfied with Clinton's contriteness, but it was the Starr part that got him blustering like a blunderbuss. There are, of course, plenty of reasons for Clinton to bash Starr. But Monday night was for taking responsibility. Hatch is right: getting caught is the chance every "jerk" takes when he cheats, and the guy who catches you is not the biggest problem. You are. That's true even if your captor is a jerk as well.

Even if Saddam "disarmed" tomorrow, there's no way in hell that he would do it "right."

Note: Also read Chris' outstanding coverage and commentary about the AntiWar protests in Portland and elsewhere.

There Is No Closure

Jeanne D'Arc makes a very thoughtful point about the prevailing fallacy that the families of victims are somehow cleansed of their pain by the execution of the killer (or so they think) of a loved one.

It occurred to me in reading this article, how much the short attention span of the press does to feed this beast. When perpetrators of ghastly crimes are tried, we almost always hear the victims' families calls for vengeance. After an execution, family members are trotted out to announce they are happy with the result. And if there is "closure" for anyone at that moment, it seems to be the press -- because that's where the story ends. The only problem is that the victims' families are still left with the pain, and for all the talk of "caring about the victims," once they've achieved their purpose of helping the prosecutor get his conviction and sentence, and helping the press wrap up a neat story of "justice," nobody's terribly interested in them anymore. It would mess up our story if we knew that relief was ephemeral. As everyone, deep down, knows it must be. As Bud Welch says, "God didn't make normal human beings to feel good out of watching another human being take his last breath."

It is simply cruel to hold out the false hope that killing the killer will take away the pain. Sadly, I think that these families of the victims are victimized themselves by a rather ruthless prosecutorial ethos that seeks to leverage their rage and feelings of impotence against the obvious logic of accepting the loss and learning to live with it.

It is certainly understandable and even commendable that they use the loved ones as the living face of the consequences of the act during a trial. They represent society and the loved ones represent the human loss. But, using them afterward as poster children for the machinery of the death penalty as if they are the true beneficiaries is cynical and self-serving. By stoking the need for vengeance, they keep the wound open and festering purely for public relations purposes. The families are so caught up in an illogical belief in the emotional catharsis of execution that they remain in a state of suspended animation for years at a time.

Were the death penalty abolished in favor of life without parole, the families' involvement with the legal system would end on the day of sentencing. And they would be able to begin the painful but necessary process of moving on with their lives. That day always comes eventually and the death penalty system only delays the reckoning.

Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed, but I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops, uh, depending on the breaks...

Pentagon Warlord


Pentagon officials say orders such as No. 177 are normally reviewed thoroughly in advance and fly across a Defense chief's desk. But with every step America takes toward war with Iraq, which could be as little as a month off, Rumsfeld is doing things his own meticulous way. Over the past few weeks, he has been holding up deployment papers at the last minute, demanding answers and explanations about which units are going where, why. He has been running similar drills for months on the generals and admirals, reworking the plans to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein. General Tommy Franks, the Army four-star who would run the war as head of U.S. Central Command, actually prepared the plan. But as a Pentagon officer points out, "That misses the point. Franks may be the draftsman, but Rumsfeld's the architect."


Retired Army General Norman Schwarzkopf, who led the first Gulf War, says he is "nervous" about the control Rumsfeld is exercising over the buildup. "It looks like Rumsfeld is totally, 100%, in charge," says Schwarzkopf. "He seems to be deeply immersed in the operational planning—to the chagrin of most of the armed forces."


Republican Senators complained to White House chief of staff Andrew Card that Rumsfeld was keeping them in the dark about war plans and other military issues. So last week Rumsfeld reported to Capitol Hill for a 21/2-hour kiss-and-make-up session with Senators. Asked later if he had been ignoring his minders, Rumsfeld said, "I don't think there is a problem."

It is that truculent attitude that most irritates many military men. Some who have worked with Rumsfeld say his interpersonal skills are shabby, however charming he is on camera. "Rumsfeld's a bully; he's arrogant, and he has a huge ego," says a senior Army officer with more than 30 years' experience in uniform. The loudest cries come from the Army, where Rumsfeld and his troops have kneecapped the two men in charge. Rumsfeld let it be known last April that the Army's top general, Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, was a lame duck 15 months before his term was slated to end. "It was condescending and a little bit cruel," says Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general. A month later, Rumsfeld loyalists made it clear that Army Secretary Thomas White, a former Enron executive who vainly tried to thwart Rumsfeld's decision to kill the Crusader, was one more mistake away from losing his job. "It's pretty clear that the Army is going to be the big loser," says Lawrence Korb, a top Reagan-era Pentagon aide.

"If it were not for the war in Afghanistan and the looming war in Iraq, I'm sure they would already be cutting two Army divisions." Perhaps Rumsfeld is counting on the first war of the 21st century to shake the brass out of its cold war mentality. But it may be that he has already accomplished most of what he came to do: reassert civilian control of a military that had grown used to getting its way. As photocopiers cranked out the deployment orders last week for Rumsfeld to consider at his own unpredictable pace, top military officers admitted they are scrambling to think ahead, no longer waiting for him to O.K. their every move. Any delay, they said, would be risky with a man like Rumsfeld prowling the halls. "We're sending troops forward without deployment orders," a top Navy officer conceded last week. "We don't want to get caught flat-footed when Rumsfeld asks, 'How come you guys haven't left yet?'"

Golly, don't you feel all safe and cozy with a cool head like this in charge?

"Even though progress has been made, there's more to do," Bush said.

uh huh.

The State of Texas still recognizes Confederate Heroes Day, originally on Jan. 19 (Robert E. Lee’s birthday) and now on the second Monday in January, shared with observance of Martin Luther King’s birthday.

Thanks to David E's Fablog

Monday, January 20, 2003

"The summer of 1963 was a very eventful one for me: the summer I turned 17"

Excerpts from Clinton's Speech at a Ceremony in Oak Bluff, Massachusetts, on the 35th Anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" Speech

August 28, 1998

The summer of 1963 was a very eventful one for me: the summer I turned 17.

What most people know about it now is the famous picture of me shaking hands with President Kennedy in July. It was a great moment. But I think the moment we commemorate today, a moment I experienced all alone, had a more profound impact on my life.

Most of us who are old enough remember exactly where we were on Aug. 28, 1963. I was in my living room in Hot Springs, Ark.

I remember the chair I was sitting in. I remember exactly where it was in the room. I remember exactly the position of the chair when I sat and watched on national television the great March on Washington unfold.

I remember weeping uncontrollably during Martin Luther King's speech. And I remember thinking, when it was over, my country would never be the same and neither would I.

There are people all across this country who made a more intense commitment to the idea of racial equality and justice that day than they had ever made before. And so in very personal ways, all of us became better and bigger because of the work of those who brought that great day about. There are millions of people who John Lewis will never meet who are better and bigger because of what that day meant.

And the words continue to echo down to the present day, spoken to us today by children who were not even alive then. And, God willing, their grandchildren will also be inspired and moved and become better and bigger because of what happened on that increasingly distant summer day.

What I'd like to ask you to think about a little today, and to share with you -- and I'll try to do it without taking my spectacles out, but I don't write very well and I don't read too well as I get older -- is what I think this means for us today. I was trying to think about what John and Dr. King and others did and how they did it, and how it informs what I do and how I think about other things today.

And I want to ask, you all need to think about three things . . . .

No. 1, Dr. King used to speak about how we were all bound together in a web of mutuality, which was an elegant way of saying, whether we like it or not, we're all in this life together. We are interdependent. Well, what does that mean? Well, let me give you a specific example: We had some good news today. Incomes in America went up 5 percent last year. That's a big bump in a year. We have got the best economy in a generation. That's the good news.

But we are mutually interdependent with people far beyond our borders. Yesterday, there was some more news that was troubling out of Russia, some rumor, some fact about the decline in the economy. Our stock market dropped over 350 points. And in Latin America, our most fast-growing market for American exports, all the markets went down even though, as far as we know, most of those countries are doing everything right. Why? Because we're in a tighter and tighter and tighter web of mutuality.

Asia has these economic troubles. So even though we have got the best economy in a generation, our farm exports to Asia are down 30 percent from last year. And we have states in this country where farmers, the hardest-working people in this country, can't make their mortgage payments because of things that happened half a world away they didn't have any direct influence on at all. This world is being bound together more closely.

So what is the lesson from that? Well, I should go to Russia because, as John said, anybody can come see you when you're doing well. I should go there.

And we should tell them that if they'll be strong and do the disciplined, hard things they have to do to reform their country, their economy, and get through this dark night, that we'll stick with them. . . .

The second thing.

Even if you're not a pacifist, whenever possible, peace and nonviolence is always the right thing to do.

I remember so vividly in 1994 . . .I was trying to pass this crime bill, and all of the opposition to the crime bill that was in the newspapers, all the intense opposition was coming from the N.R.A. and the others that did not want us to ban assault weapons, didn't believe that we ought to have more community policemen walking the streets, and conservatives who thought we should just punish people more and not spend more money trying to keep kids out of trouble in the first place. And it was a huge fight.

And so they came to see me, and he said, "Well, John Lewis is not going to vote for this bill." And I said, "Why?" and they said, "Because it increases the number of crimes subject to the Federal death penalty and he's not for it. And he's not in bed with all those other people, he thinks they're wrong, but he can't vote for it." And I said, "Well, let him alone. There's no point in calling him" because he's lived a lifetime dedicated to an idea and while I may not be a pacifist, whenever possible, it's always the right thing to do to try to be peaceable and nonviolent.

Half a world away, terrorists trying to hurt Americans blow up two embassies in Africa, and they killed some of our people, some of our best people -- of, I might add, very many different racial and ethnic backgrounds, American citizens, including a distinguished career African-American diplomat and his son -- but they also killed almost 300 Africans and wounded 5,000 others.

We see their pictures in the morning paper, two of them who did that. We were bringing them home. And they look like active, confident young people. What happened inside them that made them feel so much hatred toward us that they could justify not only an act of violence against innocent diplomats and other public servants, but the collateral consequences to Africans whom they would never know? They had children, too.

So it is always best to remember that we have to try to work for peace in the Middle East, for peace in Northern Ireland, for an end to terrorism, for protections against biological and chemical weapons being used in the first place.

The night before we took action against the terrorist operations in Afghanistan and Sudan, I was here on this island up till 2:30 in the morning trying to make absolutely sure that at that chemical plant there was no night shift. I believed I had to take the action I did, but I didn't want some person who was a nobody to me, but who may have a family to feed and a life to live, and probably had no earthly idea what else was going on there, to die needlessly. I learned that, and it's another reason we ought to pay our debt to the United Nations, because if we can work together, together we can find more peaceful solutions. Now I didn't learn that when I became President; I learned it from John Lewis and the civil rights movement a long time ago.

And the last thing I learned from them on which all these other things depend, without which we cannot build a world of peace or one America in an increasingly peaceful world bound together in this web of mutuality, is that you can't get there unless you're willing to forgive your enemies. I never will forget one of the most -- I don't think I have ever spoken about this in public before -- but one of the most meaningful personal moments I have had as President was a conversation I had with Nelson Mandela.

And I said to him -- I said: "You know, I have read your book, and I have heard you speak.

And you spent time with my wife and daughter, and you have talked about inviting your jailers to your inauguration." And I said, "It's very moving." And I said: "You're a shrewd as well as a great man. But come on now, how did you really do that? You can't make me believe you didn't hate those people who did that to you for 27 years?"

He said, "I did hate them for quite a long time. After all, they abused me physically and emotionally. They separated me from my wife, and it eventually broke my family up. They kept me from seeing my children grow up." He said, "For quite a long time, I hated them."

And then he said: "I realized one day, breaking rocks, that they could take everything away from me, everything, but my mind and heart. Now, those things I would have to give away, and I simply decided I would not give them away."

So as you look around the world, you see -- how do you explain these three children who were killed in Ireland or all the people who were killed in the square when the people were told to leave the City Hall, there was a bomb there, and then they walked out toward the bomb?

What about all those families in Africa? I don't know. I can't pick up the telephone and call them and say, "I am so sorry this happened." How do we find that spirit?

All of you know I'm having to become quite an expert in this business of asking for forgiveness. And I ----. It gets a little easier the more you do it. And if you have a family, an Administration, a Congress and a whole country to ask, you're going to get a lot of practice.

But I have to tell that in these last days it has come home to me again, something I first learned as President, but it wasn't burned in my bones -- and that is that in order to get it, you have to be willing to give it. And all of us -- the anger, the resentment, the bitterness, the desire for recrimination against people you believe have wronged you -- they harden the heart and deaden the spirit and lead to self-inflicted wounds.

And so it is important that we are able to forgive those we believe have wronged us, even as we ask for forgiveness from people we have wronged.

And I heard that first -- first -- in the civil rights movement. "Love thy neighbor as thyself."

In the middle of the fight of his life, off the cuff, without notes...

Atrios says "A judge appoints a lawyer to represent the uterus. Lovely"

Hey, if a uterus gets a lawyer, then I think that penises should get one, too. Everybody knows that it has a mind of it's own. If a smattering of cells can be granted personhood with legal rights, the mighty male member with it's often total power over the most rational of men should at least have a right to an attorney.

Just think how differently Clinton's case would have gone if his dick had had Johnnie Cochran (heh) defending it?

Taking It For The Team

TBOGG provides us with another reason why wearing a bow tie is an immediate tip-off that the wearer is actually a ruthless authoritarian prick.

So by building in safeguards to keep the innocent, the railroaded, the poor, or the not-white-like-Will from being executed by an imperfect system, Will would have a few innocent people die to make sure that the death penalty acts as a deterrent and can be measured. To Will this must be like "taking one for the team" only in this case, the innocent person won't be around to see the final score or if George Will's team of grim social Darwinists win.

How very gracious of him.

Hey, TBOGG. He's not saying we won't get our hair mussed....

I always knew that Will had a rather unseemly attraction to the Power of the State. So many of these supposedly small-government conservatives do. They like the State very well when it comes to overwhelming police power.

All you gun lovers out there had better make sure you treat these boys very nicely and do exactly what they want you to do. For totalitarian types the bill of rights are sentimental words written on a piece of toilet paper. And that includes the second amendment.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

They've Got To Be Kidding

Bush honors Jefferson Davis

From Daily Kos

The wreath tradition stuck around until Bush I mercifully ended it. Clinton, I am happy to say, let the dead tradition stay dead. But Bush II, never one to squander an opportunity to pander to the racist segment of the South, has happily resurrected the tradition.

Karl Rove makes Lee Atwater look like an amateur.

Diversity Is Good For Business

Maybe the Court (and the American people) will listen to these guys:

From Business Week:

The Bush Administration is poised to weigh in, opposing the school's right to consider race in its admission process. But the companies, including Exelon, Microsoft, Bank One, General Motors, and Steelcase, plan to advocate for the defense with a new brief in mid-February.

The Administration and the justices should take heed of Corporate America's argument. These corporate chieftains are speaking out about such a hot-button social issue because they believe that as minorities' share of the U.S. population has mounted, diversity has become a critical workforce requirement.

The nation's colleges are an essential part of the pipeline that feeds new hires to large companies. On a campus where diversity thrives, students develop an understanding of different cultures. That enables them, as tomorrow's business leaders, to "appeal to a variety of consumers" and work with colleagues and clientele from many ethnic backgrounds, the companies argued in their amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals. It also creates a more competitive workforce that can "facilitate unique and creative approaches to problem-solving," the brief said. Simply put, says Bank One Corp. Chief Legal Officer Christine A. Edwards, "diversity is good business."


"A diverse college environment is a much better setting for preparing graduates for life in business," says Steelcase Inc. CEO James P. Hackett.

Or, you can send a bunch of morons who think that having a "Ghetto Party" on Martin Luther King Day is good clean fun, out into the workforce.

Everybody Brings Exactly The Same Thing To The Party

Newsweek Poll

More than two-thirds of Americans polled said they don’t think colleges and universities should give preference in admissions based on race or ethnicity. They also felt strongly that preferential treatment should be denied to children of alumni, athletes and even musicians and other artists. However, 65 percent would approve of affirmative action based on income, giving preference for college admissions to applicants from low-income families, regardless of their race or ethnic background.

So, the only talent that Americans value is straight academic talent as measured by tests and grades. You play like Shostakovitch? Tough shit. We cannot measure this so-called talent in our computer brain so you had better get that math score up, comrade. You paint like Picasso? How sweet. But, you shall receive no extra credit for such a useless talent. We have no need for your unproductive contribution in higher education. Study your English so we can measure how valuable you are by the almighty SAT scores from which all judgements shall be made.

And, all of you athletes are wasting our time. Sure, we spend billions each year on college sports but we are willing to give all that up for an academic meritocracy based upon infallible test scores. You are nothing to us, now.

Study math and English, brothers. Your tests and your "objective" grades are the only measure we care about. Everything else is unfair to the truly deserving.

What Would It Be Worth To You?

Oh Man. Dwight Meredith has a devastating post up about compensatory damages.

As Bill Clinton knew so well, in order to make a complicated point comprehensible to average Americans who have no first hand experience with abstract issues involving big money and policy choices --- you personalize it, you draw contrasts and you frame the issue in terms of human values.

These are real human beings who have been determined to have suffered a life changing loss due to negligent or conscious actions on the part of corporations. It is not about the "greedy trial lawyers." It is about them.

It is beyond dispute that pain and suffering is a real, actual, legitimate loss. The hard question is how much money is required to compensate for a given amount of pain and suffering. There is no scale that actually balances pain on one side of the scale and money on the other side. The Bush administration suggests that a lifetime of pain and suffering result in compensation of a maximum of $250,000.

Perhaps we can put that amount into perspective by comparing it with other values our within society.

In 1999 Ken Lay dispatched an empty Enron Jet to France to fetch his daughter Robin home from Nice. The cost of that flight was was $125,000 or one half of what the Bush administration considers to be the value of a lifetime of pain and suffering.

The Bush administration’s latest tax cut proposal would have reduced Dick Cheney’s taxes by $220,000 in the last year he worked at Halliburton. That tax relief is approximately 90% of what the Bush administration believes to be the damages for a lifetime of pain and suffering.

Invested in 10-year Treasury Notes currently yielding 4.02%, $250,000 could provide a yearly income of $10,050. A full time minimum wage earner makes approximately $11,850 per year.

Last year Braves pitcher Gregg Maddox earned more than $13,000,000 and pitched almost 200 innings. Mr. Maddox earned more than what Mr. Bush feels is adequate compensation for a lifetime in a wheelchair for every four innings he pitched.

There is more. Go read it.

Tricky Dick, We Hardly Knew Ye

The Chicago Tribune does a thorough analysis of the administrations duplicity and mendacity in the Michigan case. Thomas Spencer at Thinking It Through cuts to the chase:

In short, W and the boys are saying one thing in public and something entirely different in their legal arguments before the Supreme Court. Just one more example of this administration's astonishing dishonesty with the American people.

It's not exactly surprising though. Since Nixon's folks are largely running this adminstration, it doesn't exactly surprise me that they would take such a Nixonian approach. If you recall Nixon once said "Watch what we do, not what we say."

Apparently these folks learned well from their former boss because Nixon's caveat applies to the present administration as well.

Spencer is a historian who knows whereof he speaks. The Nixonian character of this administration cannot be overstated. They overtly reject Bush I and try to assume the mantle of Saint Reagan, but this is the party of dirty tricks, ratfucking, enemies lists, secrecy and imperial executive power.

How About A "Priest and Alter Boy Party" On Easter?

Via Orcinus:

From College Station, home of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum:

Texas A&M Embarrassed by 'Ghetto Party'

Texas A&M University officials are trying to stop some students' plans to mark Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. holiday with an-off campus party at which guests are encouraged to mimic stereotypes about blacks.

``It's hard to understand how students could live in today's world and think a party playing on stereotypes of African-Americans would be acceptable,'' said Ron Sasse, director of dormitories at the College Station campus, where 85 percent of the students are white and 3 percent are black.

Fliers at the Walton Hall dormitory advertised the event and encouraged partygoers to mimic stereotypes and ``think ghetto.''

Oh come on. It's just a little bit of modern Minstrel fun on Martin Luther King Day. True, King was the leader of the most important civil rights movement in our history and was assassinated by a racist scumbag, but that's no reason you can't dress up in blackface on his birthday and make fun of African-Americans. Lighten up (no pun intended.)

All I can say is thank gawd they got rid of that racist affirmative action in those Texas universities. There's obviously no advantage to having more African-Americans on campus. Those fun-loving pranksters don't need to have any black people around to challenge their prejudices or make them defend such insulting stereotypes face to face with those they seek to humiliate and demean. No need at all.

MLK had it right. People should be judged by the content of their character.
Why Not Capital Punishment for Double Parking, Too?

Talk Left discusses the case of a man accused of attempted espionage. Ashcroft is seeking the death penalty.

Please, please spare me any hand-wringing on this one about the families of the victims and how the only possible justice for them is "an eye for an eye." There are no families of the victims, because THERE ARE NO VICTIMS.

Does everyone feel comfortable with the idea of executing people for espionage that wasn't even committed? Particularly when Robert Hansen, everybody's favorite Clinton hating G-Man, was personally responsible for numerous deaths of American agents by the KGB and he got life (and we taxpayers are paying his pension to his wife.)

Of course, Hansen had information to share because he was guilty as sin and his crimes reached to highest level of the clandestine spy world, so they couldn't kill him. Who knows what he might say in a courtroom? But, this poor schmuck is just a mentally challenged loser so they can "make an example of him."

That's Justice with a capital J.

Correction: That's Hanssen. Thanks to Patrick Neilsen Hayden for the heads up.


Julia at Sisyphus Shrugged directs us to this delicious little bit of feline DC back-biting.

I honored the rule about keeping confidences," says Frum, 42. He also honored the rule, he says, "of keeping the president's thinking confidential as he's thinking it." (It's unclear, however, how familiar the author was with the president's thinking. Asked how many one-on-one meetings he had with the president, Frum says there were "six or eight." But when pressed to exclude walk-by encounters in the hallways, the total falls to "two or three.")

He has fleshy pale cheeks, bright brown eyes and an eager bearing that leaves the impression of an overgrown boy. Frum is sitting in his office at the American Enterprise Institute, where he is a resident fellow. He is surrounded by stacked boxes of "The Right Man." Speaking in a smooth, NPR-perfect voice, he has completed 17 radio interviews by lunchtime. He began at 6 a.m. and will be finished by midnight.

Frum is attempting what is probably an impossible balancing act: He wants to "speak truthfully about what I saw" at the White House while still hoping for the administration's love. He observes from outside the sanctum but still promises an "inside account." He is a self-described "minor player" who still feels qualified to write that Secretary of State Colin Powell is the "deadliest bureaucratic knife fighter in the whole Bush administration."

All of which has made him a figure of some disdain, both within and beyond the Bush circle. This is manifest in a classic Washington form: Conversations with people who know Frum begin with on-the-record praise and spiral into on-background ridicule. "There's a sort of desperate edge to David's need to be noticed," says one well-known conservative who knows Frum and has ties to the White House. Frum has an outsider's zealousness for recognition, he says. In addition to still being a Canadian citizen, Frum was also one of the few Jews in the Bush White House, a point of which he seems acutely conscious.

As Julia pithily observes: Shame no-one in the White House realized what a loser this guy was before he set our foreign policy, isn't it?